Non-drug pain therapy


Alternative procedures are of central importance in therapy, especially chronic pain. Pain experts put them together individually because their necessity and effectiveness depend on both the type of pain and the specific situation of the patient. The methods are usually suitable as a supplement to a suitable medication.

In the treatment of chronic pain, medicinal and non-medicinal methods also play an important role. They include, for example, acupuncture or the so-called TENS. Massages can also be used to relieve muscle tension, for example, as a cause of headaches. The same applies to special relaxation procedures.

On the one hand, these procedures can help to reduce the necessary dose of pain relievers and thus their side effects, especially with long-term therapy. And on the other hand, they often enable a causal treatment of the pain. Because especially when chronifying pain, many factors play a role, for example the psychological handling of the pain, the pain-related stress and the constant tension of the muscles in the affected regions. And at these points the non-drug procedures attack. Therefore, they have become an integral part of the holistic, so-called multimodal therapy concepts of modern pain therapy.

Herbal alternatives to pain management

Overview of alternative approaches to pain therapy


In the case of pain of different types, the use of the more than 2500 year old method from the area of ​​traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has proven itself in order to improve the symptoms permanently. It is important that the acupuncture is carried out by an experienced acupuncturist and that there are enough sessions.

Read more about the possibilities of acupuncture


Biofeedback offers the patient the opportunity to specifically influence certain processes in the body. For this he needs a special device that shows him the corresponding body functions. In this way, exercise can be used to control breathing rate, heart rate and muscle tension, for example. And with migraines there is an approach to arbitrarily control the expansion and narrowing of the carotid artery.

Medical hypnosis

The method has long been considered charlatanism. In the meantime, it has established itself medically and is already being used to treat dentist phobia and pain during treatment. With simple sentences and pictorial descriptions, the therapist puts the patient in a trance, which does not make them unwilling, but only extremely relaxed when fully conscious. Letting go can help alleviate chronic pain. In this procedure, the patient uses imagination and auto-suggestion to develop his or her own powers against the pain. According to the German Pain League, a self-help organization, for example, young children with headaches learn to imagine themselves under a protective umbrella when they are under too much strain. Once you have recovered, simply close the umbrella (in your mind). The patient can also use this method alone after some practice.

Read more about the possibilities of hypnosis

Muscle relaxation according to Jacobson

For example, progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson is often used for pain. Here, the patient learns to tense and relax certain muscle groups one after the other in a relaxed position. In this way, the pain can be alleviated because tensions can be better recognized and reduced. The patient also has the experience of taking time for himself and being able to do something about the pain.

Read more about Jacobson's progressive muscle relaxation here


The abbreviation TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and has proven particularly useful for tension headaches and migraines. This method uses low-frequency pulse current to relieve pain.

Read more about the possibilities of TENS

Heating and cooling applications

The physical methods try to influence the pain positively, especially in a passive way. In the case of chronic tension headaches caused by muscular tension, the use of heat (thermotherapy), for example in the form of mud packs, hot water bottles, or infrared light, is a common method. Among other things, it leads to the muscles relaxing and the blood circulation increases.

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In acute cases, however, cold applications (ice packs, cold washcloths on the forehead) have proven their worth. It slows the rate of pain transmission. In addition, the blood vessels contract, which counteracts the formation of swelling. Furthermore, inflammatory processes take place more slowly and finally the cold – like heat – can help to relieve muscle tension.


Partial or full body massages complement the physical methods. Kneading, caressing or tapping, for example, has a positive mechanical effect on the skin, muscles and connective tissue.

Behavioral and Talk therapy

If pain torments the body, the psyche is also strained – and vice versa. Depression and pain are a vicious cycle. Psychological help can therefore often be helpful for chronic pain.

Dietary supplements and vitamins

Some of these products can be helpful for pain, for example fish oil and glucosamine for joint problems, capsaicin from chillies for arthritis pain. B vitamins are useful for nerve pain, but also magnesium.

music therapy

Playing music yourself – learning an instrument – or listening to music can help to forget about pain. This works best when the pain patient seeks advice from a trained music therapist.


The chiropractor can use joints to set up joints that are slightly displaced or jammed. It is a biomechanical treatment method.


It doesn't always have to be sweaty training. Pain patients already benefit from a daily walk in beautiful surroundings. This not only loosens tight muscles, but also demonstrably raises the mood. Last but not least, the fresh air invigorates.

Other approaches to non-drug pain therapy include:

Many pain patients also benefit from the exchange in a self-help group.

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